“It’s hard to remember how joy used to feel,” Erik Walters sings on one of the stand-out tracks of his second album as Silver Torches, Let It Be A Dream. “Staring at the ceiling dreaming, pretending happiness is real.” When Walters sings it, though, the song isn’t quite a muck of despair, like it reads on the page. It is, as Stereogum called it, a “synth-powered Americana,” hinging on the kind of dark verses that require a bright, bleary chorus of hope. As the song title suggests, the reach comes through, and if a palm can impart joy again, then perhaps, here, it does.
Of course, I can think of a thousand times in my life I’ve felt the way those first lines go, –as most people reading this probably can. There are moments when you get so caught up in the dark cycle of everyday life, whether it be injustice, grief, trauma, hatred, or numbness, that the moments of joy and happiness seem impossibly far away, like a dream, even. But the crux of the song is an unexpected connection, a brief attempt to connect, even hypothetical, can jolt you out the dark. The bright, bleary chorus is always a possibility, no matter how thick the gloom seems.
Let It Be A Dream deals again and again in gloom and brightness, not a hot and sweet shine, like sunlight, but slow and silver like moonbeams on water. If you’re new to Walters’ work, start with “Keep The Car Running,” not an Arcade Fire take, but a circular, gentle hum, with Greg Leisz (of Springsteen and Joni Mitchell fame) adding pedal steel like a trace of honey in a cup of warm tea. Sometimes I think the best folk albums feel like tea, warm and mellow in your hand, but all the difference as a temporary barrier against the cold or the night.
All cross Let It Be A Dream‘s brief nine tracks, Walters offers a small comfort, within his tender songwriting and golden melodies, simple and sometimes sad, grappling with despair but never succumbing, dictating pain but telling about love.”I wrote Let It Be A Dream from the perspective of someone claimed by the honeytrap of the American Dream,” he said of the album. “It’s a lonely admittance to settling with what cards you’ve been dealt knowing it’s near impossible to climb your way out from the bottom of a glass-walled well.”